When I moved to Austin a year ago, this place was bone dry, deep into a years-long drought. The crispy brown weeds fried under the relentless sun of hundred degree days clear through September into October. It didn’t really start cooling down until late November. Winter was mild, and wet. Then the spring came, and the rains. And it rained and it rained . . . and it rained.
This is now officially the most rain that has ever fallen for this time of year here – ever. The high temperature each day is in the 80s, sometimes only the 70s. Needless to say, there’s been lots of flooding. Last year’s crispy brown weeds are 6 foot tall small trees now. Lawn mowers are useless. The ground is mucky, the vegetation jungle-thick, the snakes are coming up from the flooded creek bottoms and roaming the neighborhoods terrorizing dogs and the parents of small children.
Is this the same place? Just one state over, in New Mexico, the drought persists. No rain. There is flooding in the Midwest, too, and England is experiencing more rain than ever, which is an awful thought. It’s like Seattle getting extra rain. What does this mean?
Global warming doesn’t translate neatly into higher temperatures and that’s it. The earth is a dynamic interaction of many forces and when one thing changes, it all shifts. Climate chaos would be a better term. It’s more like – we’ve upset the balance and now there’s hell to pay.
If nothing else, these extreme weather events should get people’s attention on the fact that we have a serious problem and we need to do something about it. It has to go beyond disaster relief into future disaster prevention. The healing begins at whatever point is accessible to you. Today.
I would like to make a couple of suggestions that almost anyone can do, wherever you are, to begin to help heal the planet. Personally, I think it is important to physically touch the earth and touch the plants that grow the food we eat. I believe this helps to realign our energy with the life force that sustains us. However you feel about that, we all have to eat and all of us eat food that comes from the earth. This is a good place to start.
Picking an apple right off the tree and eating it is a different act than picking it from a grocery store bin and taking it home and eating it. Most children these days don’t know what the plant or tree that gives them food looks like. You can make a big difference in a child’s life by helping them grow plants that give them food or taking them to a pick-your-own farm or to your neighbor’s garden. You can find local farms and CSAs by going to Local Harvest http://www.localharvest.org/
Another easy thing you can do to prevent future disasters and help heal the planet is to look at what you have inside your own house. Indoor air pollution from cleaning products is real and it’s serious. There are studies that show that chemicals found in cleaners interfere with the development of neurological, endocrine and immune systems in children, trigger asthma (duh), cause changes in sexual behavior, decrease fertility, cause menstrual changes, changes in the onset of puberty, cancers of reproductive organs, miscarriages, and premature births. I kid you not. We have enough to deal with outside without doing ourselves in when we come home.
Air fresheners are some of the worst offenders. They have fragrances carried by phthalates which aggravate asthma and are linked to reproductive harm and they also contain such lovely VOCs as benzene and formaldehyde. All that just to make the air smell artificially “fresh”? A good article with a list of cleaners containing dangerous chemicals was published recently in Common Dreams: http://www.commondreams.org/archive/2007/07/24/2740/
One thing I noticed when I got rid of my toxic cleaning products was the money I didn’t spend on them any more. I began using unscented dish soap and hot water to clean glass, borax in place of powdered cleansers, hydrogen peroxide instead of bleach, and baking soda in hotwater to clean just about anything. If you want a scent put a few drops of your favorite essential oil in the water as you clean. Now my house is clean, sanitary and non-polluting – to me or the environment.
The chemicals in laundry detergents can be found in 70% of North American streams according to the US Geological Survey. Those chemicals are killing the fish. I like to eat fish. I use non-polluting laundry detergent. I use about half the recommended amount and add borax, which is very inexpensive, to it. I don’t have to kill fish to get my clothes clean. And I don’t have to give my grandson an asthma attack to get the bathroom clean. For more information on safe cleaning alternatives go to